Miliband: Politics, philosophy and a slug of new policy

A bit of politics, a lot of philosophy and a slug of new policy. That's what we got from the Labour leader Ed Miliband today.

His backing for the idea of a cap on social security spending - or at least that bit of it which doesn't go up simply because of rising unemployment - is designed to reassure those voters who tell the pollsters they don't trust Labour to control spending or welfare.

It is impossible to judge the impact of a cap first suggested by George Osborne until he or Ed Miliband spells out what it includes and excludes and what level it will be set at.

What was clear today, however, is the Labour leader's philosophy.

He believes that cutting benefits is not the way to cut the benefit bill. He argues instead for cutting what he calls "the cost of failure" by creating jobs for the young long-term unemployed, building houses and driving down rents and incentivising businesses to pay their staff more.

The newest and most eye-catching policy was the suggestion that those who'd worked for longer but then lost their jobs might get a higher level of benefits.

What all this might mean will, though, be shaped by the most important thing Labour have announced this week: their acceptance that they will have to live with all the coalition's spending cuts unless they can find money from elsewhere - and not from borrowing - to pay for them to be reversed.